Paul's Passing Thoughts

Galatians 2:20 in 16 Minutes

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 15, 2015

Dee Parsons of Wartburg Watch: The Personification of Everything Wrong with Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 8, 2015

Blocked by DeeWhen Paul’s Passing Thoughts .com was started in 2009, the goal was to find out why church turned on me with a vengeance despite my best efforts. Second to that was the question, “What now, where does one go from the point of diagnosing the problem?” You have to properly diagnose the problem before you can fix it.

This article will not wear you out with points leading up to a final conclusion; I will begin by stating what I have found. Church produces the fruit of its ideology. What is wrong with church? Answer: church is what’s wrong with church. Christ’s mandate to his followers was never intended to look anything like church. The solution is to depart from church and pursue Christ’s mandate to His followers. You can’t fix church. There is nothing there that is salvageable.

Let me back up a tad because this post is not the least bit personal, but seeks to sharpen the objectives of TANC Ministries. This is some information that I have not shared before. PPT was primarily a blog for the express purpose of sharing my research. My focus was research. I had to know why—how could dozens of pastors stand by and watch Clearcreek Chapel do to my family what they did?

Clearly, obviously, from a literal interpretive standpoint in regard to the Bible, what they were doing was dead wrong and unbiblical. During the episode, I was even under the counsel of a church that was part of the same fellowship of churches that Clearcreek Chapel belongs to. The pastor, the late Rick Wilson, was a former associate pastor at CCC. The present pastor of the church, Paul Craig, was an elder at the time and according to Wilson found the situation, “unsettling.” Grace Covenant (Beavercreek, Ohio) was obviously stuck in the middle, and was also the recipient of a significant exodus of people from CCC at the time. Though I was clearly under church discipline at CCC, I was allowed to attend Grace Covenant on a regular basis. I even thought about applying for membership which would have forced the Grace Covenant elders into making a judgment regarding the veracity of CCC discipline. I should have; watching that play out would have been priceless.

Eventually, Wilson instructed me to go back and play along in order to get my wife back, but I had already tried that for four months. During that time, I was subjected to cult-like break sessions conducted by CCC elder and Psychiatrist Dr. Devon Berry. The CCC elders knew that I had overcome serious depression in the past, and it was obvious they thought they could use Berry and the circumstances they were bringing to bear in my life to drive me into debilitating despair. It was very apparent to me at the time: that is what they were trying to do.

I want to stop right here and thank God publically for something right now—I want to give Him the glory. At the time, I was working out of town and laid in bed at night before going to work the next day…in perfect peace. My favorite time of the day during that time period was bedtime. Why? I laid there in the quiet darkness, not really thinking about anything except how peaceful it was. I was doing nothing but laying there soaking up the peacefulness. Do I have any theories regarding this experience? One: I had begun a long journey in search for the truth. God is with one on such journeys. That’s my best shot at answering that question. By all reasoning, I should have been a basket case.

Let’s now pause here for some simple clarification. It all boiled down to two things:

AUTHORITY, and how I interpreted reality versus how they interpreted reality.

I have discovered something in my research—research enables you to come to a point more and more where you can explain complex problems in simple terms. In the 2500 + articles I have written on Reformed ideology, you can see the focus move from the what to the why. My first book articulated the what and how it contradicted a grammatical interpretation of reality, though I didn’t understand the latter dynamic. My second book articulated the contemporary history of the Neo-Calvinism movement and added some more data about grammatical contradictions.

My third book and subsequent booklets articulate the grammatical contradictions in regard to soteriology. They also describe the dynamics between the Old Calvinism/New Calvinism question and how the interpretation of reality drives that debate.

Including time spent prior to PPT, eight years later, I can now put all of this in simple terms. It boils down to AUTHORITY vested in the interpretation of reality.

And, the established credential thereof known as “orthodoxy.” What is the premise of orthodoxy? Nothing more or less than the claims of men that people choose to believe. You can put any number of things in place of “naked” in regard to the following question posed by God, “Who told you that you are_____?” Be very, very, very wary of what men say God told you. And that’s orthodoxy. And the place we go to get certified in orthodoxy is called “seminary.” In case you haven’t noticed, God isn’t the dean or an adjunct professor in any of these schools.

PPT Blocked 4Here is something else that should be evident: you, and only you alone will answer to God. Therefore, pick your orthodoxy well. There are no attorneys in God’s court save Christ, “hear ye Him.” “God has spoken to us in these last days through His Son”, not a horde of academics.

So, what do we have in the recent dust-up between PPT and Wartburg Watch? Be advised, I am not going to rehash all of the gory details. Dee Parsons is right and I am wrong because she has college degrees, and holds to orthodoxy. Paul Dohse does not have college degrees, and does not hold to orthodoxy. Paul Dohse holds to a grammatical interpretation of realty, and therefore asks, “How can those who proclaim themselves ‘wicked’ lay claim to salvation?”

Be sure of this: NOTHING has changed since Christ ministered on earth. The primary pushback against Christ was clearly the orthodoxy of the day. Christ deliberately avoided the lauded academia of that day. I just don’t know what is more obvious. In addition, he had to personally reeducate the apostle Paul who was the only religious academic that He used for foundational purposes.

I am weary of documenting the steroidal cognitive dissonance that takes place over at Wartburg and their e-church hosted by the Barney Fife of pastors, Wade Burleson. Regardless of his credentials, from a standpoint of interpreting reality grammatically, his theological snafus are just plain embarrassing. For example, you can’t make the point that a biblical author was teaching something based on the analysis of a word that didn’t exist in the first century. This all takes place in the face of common sense for the same reason I experienced what I experienced at CCC:

AUTHORITY vested in a particular interpretation of reality.

Because one is credentialed in knowing how to lead those who cannot know reality, one should have authority over you for your own good and the common good of people in general.

In varying degrees, CHURCH, established in the 4th century by St. Augustine et al, is the expression of this primary root, and the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Chaos and drama will continue in the church with no solution in sight because of its foundational presuppositions concerning the interpretation of reality and the authority vested in its epistemology.

This ministry’s series on the Heidelberg Disputation focuses on the following fact: at issue with the Reformation was a debate about the interpretation of reality. Of course that spoke to how the Bible is interpreted, but the issue started with how reality itself is to be interpreted. Let me give you the thumbnail:

Words don’t necessarily mean things.     

By and large, there are two kinds of Protestants roaming about, Calvinists and functioning Calvinists. Susan and I often have conversations with people who hate Calvinism, but verbally espouse Calvinism unawares constantly. We don’t even address the particulars anymore because we know a complete reeducation is needed. This is what we are attempting to do with the HD series. This series reexamines the roots of the poisonous tree.

This is why Dee Parsons, in the recent dust-up, insinuated that I am mentally ill. What is the definition of a person who does not properly perceive reality? Hence, the CCC elders involved a Psychiatrist in my situation because they honestly believe I am mentally ill because I interpret reality grammatically. Reformed scholars such as Geerhardus  Vos have stated such openly. Pastor Russ Kennedy told me I was “mad” and begged me to allow them to “shepherd” me. I believe the guy honestly meant well and still does. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Class Act

By the way, I am not talking about grammatical interpretation that leads to a redemptive outcome. I am talking about the interpretation of reality beginning with exegetical presuppositions in the purest sense. I realize Reformed scholars interpret a verse literally when it can serve a redemptive historical outcome…

…that doesn’t make you a proponent of interpreting reality grammatically.

One of the accusations that flowed from the recent dust-up was that TANC Ministries is merely developing its own orthodoxy. Not so. Orthodoxy fundamentally interprets reality according to Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation which was expanded upon by John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Seminary degrees guarantee that individuals will not do independent research that will reveal the real tenants of orthodoxy:

  1. It is a metaphysical redemptive narrative that interprets all reality through a dualism of good and evil.
  1. It demands the fusion of faith and force for the common good of mankind.
  1. It is predicated on spiritual caste that adds additional mediators between God and man other than Christ.
  1. All of reality progresses as predetermined by manifestations of good completely outside of man.

Dee Parsons’ response to me that “I don’t believe what you say I believe” is most likely due to her ignorance regarding the true sum and substance of the same Reformed orthodoxy that she promotes. Perhaps. While claiming to be an advocate for the spiritually abused, she picks and chooses from orthodoxy what she wants to acknowledge.

The Westminster Confession is just wonderful, but its call to control the free press and execute those who are heterodox is due to the authors being “men of the time.” Of course, their politics and ethics had nothing to do with their ideology. Perish the thought, and no, American Jurisprudence isn’t the only difference between Calvin’s Geneva and the present-day church. It’s absurd to think Dee Parsons would actually have you committed to a mental institution because she thinks you are mentally ill. It’s absurd to think Mark Driscoll would really put you in a wood chipper just because he said that’s what ought to be done. It’s absurd to think James MacDonald would catapult you into the next county, and to your certain death just because he said he wishes he could.

Church is a place where professional clergy interpret reality in a completely different way than most parishioners. Congregants follow the dictates of church leaders while being clueless in regard to their interpretation of reality. They are given elements to follow while being totally unaware as to what those elements are based on. Hence, chaos and confusion reign. Duggar-like drama is paraded before the world constantly like an out-of-control stampede of rats. Yet, that isn’t the madness; the madness is suggesting that we rethink how church is done.  After all, Catholicism and Protestantism have had only 1500 + years to get it right. Not only that, the Neo-Calvinist movement has been in total control of the church for at least ten years. Growing steadily since its conceptual resurgence in 1970, discernment/spiritual abuse blogs exploded in 2009 when the movement shifted into 4th gear. Starting in 2008, a historical phenomenon of mediation organizations to keep churches out of court exploded onto the scene as well.

With all of this considered, I think I have heard the best assessment of Wartburg Watch yet:

Subconsciously or consciously, Dee uses her blog as a means to leverage her desire for a seat at the American church’s authoritarian table. Period. Whether this was an initial objective of her blog or merely a pitfall of unforeseen success, who knows? But the reality is obvious:

Dee creates better soldiers, not better souls. And the irony is thus that the “victims” who frequent her site often become the very image of that which they initially despised: manipulative self-appointed God-proxies who claim that the only legitimate doctrinal discussions are with those whom already concede their reformed hermeneutic (Muff Potter, anyone?).

My point is that the cognitive dissonance, the categorical rejection of reason as a yard stick for measuring reality (the efficacy of existence), makes contending with her an almost perfect waste of time.

So what’s the solution? I believe the solution is an utter rejection of orthodoxy and church as we know it. The immense ramifications of that is not the issue—truth is the issue. The church has had its chance to make a case for hope, and has not measured up.

I believe the task ahead is daunting, but will supply a freedom and joy beyond our wildest imaginations. It is a call for Christians to submit themselves to the one mediator Jesus Christ. It is a call for Christians to stop listening to men, and “hear ye Him.” Orthodoxy has NO authority, ALL authority has been given to Christ and no one else.

Past this, God’s people must gather together for mutual encouragement and edification in the ways prescribed by the Bible and not the traditions of men.

When is the misery and suffering produced by orthodoxy enough to make us question everything?

That time is well past.

paul

Susan Dohse on Plato, Augustine, Calvin, and the Reformation

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on May 26, 2015

SusanTANC 2013 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny

Transcript: Susan D. Dohse MEd.  

Plato

I’m Susan Dohse. I’m married to Paul Dohse for two years, and it has been an adventure. My role in this year’s conference has changed. This year I became Paul’s research assistant. The pay stinks, but the fringe benefits are really nice. Unlike last year when I spoke from personal experience, which though difficult and emotional at times, was easier than this year’s assignment. This year I was asked to step outside my preschool box and share what I’ve learned through not personal experience but personal study and research. And I am thankful for the World Wide Web, computers, and the Internet even though I fuss and say unkind things to the computer, I am thankful that the Lord created those on the eighth day. If I had to find answers to the questions that I had in the old-fashioned way, by using the card catalog and the Dewey Decimal system, I wouldn’t be here this morning. I would still be at the library roaming the stacks. My role in this year’s conference is to share my research. My goal though is to provoke you to think. What I want to share is only an introduction. It’s not even a scratch on the surface of what there is to know about these historical figures. It’s up to you though to continue the research project. So you do have an assignment. I want you to think of me as just a grain of sand, an irritant in the oyster that over time though yields a pearl.

Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus is speaking here. “Therefore, whosoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man who built his house upon a rock. And when the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them not shall be likened then to a foolish man who built his house upon the sand, and the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and great was the fall of it.”

The foundation of thought that I want to illustrate is built upon a historical figure that I just knew initially in a Jeopardy quiz show fashion, you know. Student of Socrates, Greek philosopher, The Republic. Who is Plato? Well, if I were to ask you to tell me something that you know or you’ve been taught about this man, I’m certain I would get classic textbook answers. Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, established the first university called The Academy, wrote The Republic, I would give you credit for being correct. For over 2,500 years, Plato has been studied, admired, modified, personalized, and deified. He has been described as a great thinker, lover of wisdom, a crusader against error, and an enemy of falsehood. Well, after reading hundreds of pages about him, I cannot help but agree that he was a man of great intelligence. He was a mathematical genius, an advocate of education. In your list of trivia facts, would you also include pagan, polytheist, crusader against individuality, founder of communistic, socialistic, and Darwinian evolutionary thought, enemy of God, hero of the reformers?

Born in 427 BC, the son of noble and wealthy Athenian parents with the blood of ancient kings of Attica flowing through his veins. It was this status in life that gave him the way and the means to pursue his quests. Unlike others of his day, he didn’t have to earn a living and go to school at night or hold two jobs to pay for his education. He was of the ruling class of Athens, a privileged elite.

At the age of 20, Plato came to Socrates and asked to be his pupil. And Socrates saw before him a handsome youth, broad shoulders of an athlete, a noble brow of a philosopher, the limpid eyes of a poet. Those aren’t my descriptive terms. This is how Socrates described him. Socrates accepted him as a student, and this became the beginning of a tender and an intimate relationship that lasted until Socrates’ death. The respect and admiration of the student for his teacher was profound and lasting.

Well, after Socrates was executed, Plato and the other disciples of Socrates took to the world, and they traveled the ancient world. Now whether of fear that they would be arrested and also executed because of their association with Socrates or because they wanted to be foreign exchange students is not really well documented. Plato went to Cyrene where Theodorus instructed him in mathematics. He went to southern Italy where he studied the science of numbers under three of the most learned doctors of the Pythagorean mathematical system of his day, went to Egypt to receive instruction from those learned doctors and priests of that ancient land. Some records say he visited Persia, Babylonia, and even India. So he returns to Athens and establishes his Academy, the first university in Europe where he taught until the age of 81.

So up until his return to Athens, we can say letter P for professional student, P for pagan polytheist. Plato regarded the sun, moon, stars, and planets as the visible gods. These heavenly bodies do not come into beings and then pass away. Plato attributed divine souls to the sun, moon, stars, and planets because they followed that intelligible course through the sky. He also held [SOUNDS LIKE] the invisible gods, the gods of the civilized life where the king was Zeus. These gods care about humans. They’re aware of whether we are good or evil. Though invisible, they can reveal them themselves when they want to. They are not standards of justice, beauty, truth, and goodness, but they were living beings who have the perfect knowledge of those standards. Plato wrote, “I do believe that there are gods, and that in a far higher sense than that which any of my accusers believe in them.”

P for platonic wisdom which unites with methodology. P for philosopher ruler. Plato referred to himself as a philosopher ruler. He stressed the importance of living the life of a philosopher by worshipping ideas. The search of ideas, the appreciation of ideas, the participation of the ideas—that’s the life of a philosopher, and that’s what he taught, and that’s what he believed. So the life of Plato was a tireless quest for those ideas. His life is a sustained effort to live by those ideas and to teach others to do so.

P, political scientist, his political philosophy was explained in his writing The Republic. The ideal state, he says, should be divided into three classes of citizens, and each class has its own particular duty to be performed and a special virtue to be developed. The lower class, the laborers and the artisans, their immediate task, acquire skill. The second class, that’s the warriors, and they’re given the opportunity to develop courage and fortitude at their stage of evolution. And the ruling class, those are those men who have learned how to govern themselves and are therefore fit to govern others. I quote from Plato, “Unless philosophers become rulers or rulers become true and thorough students of philosophy, there will be no end to the troubles of the state and humanity.” When each state concentrates upon its own duty and virtue, there will be a well-balanced and harmonious state in which all of the citizens will work, but not for the interest of self but for the common good of the whole. The state will be in charge of production and that sphere of physical goods and life. (more…)

The Elephant in the Room: The Historical-Redemptive Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on April 30, 2015

ELEPHANTOriginally published September 3, 2013

There isn’t a bigger elephant in the Sunday school room or the sanctuary than the issue of Bible interpretation. The reason for this follows: the method of interpretation that comes natural to us is assumed.

What is that method? This gets into an area of study called hermeneutics (the theory of interpretation), and the two primary theories thereof are exegesis and eisegesis. These are big theological words that the average Protestant is not supposed to know. This is because the Protestant interpretation of the Scriptures is based on authority.

We will get to exegesis and eisegesis, but the crux of the issue is authority. The Reformers came from Romanism and clearly, their interpretive construct was based on authority; i.e., the average parishioner was not free to interpret the Bible and follow it according to one’s own conscience:

Rightfully and nobly did the Protestant Reformers claim religious liberty for themselves; but they resolutely refused to concede it to others. [1]

The very foundation of Protestant interpretation is based on authority; that is, the leaders dictate meaning. Therefore, traditionally, the need for Protestants in general to understand interpretive principles would be unnecessary, and as a result, Protestantism functions that way till this very day. In the early days of the Reformation, private interpretation was outlawed [2]; in our day, education regarding the tools needed to interpret the Bible are merely excluded.

This fact brings us to an interesting word, “orthodoxy.” Traditionally, this word is associated with “truth” as a synonym. This is not the case at all. Orthodoxy is the authority of truth based on counsels of any given sect. [3] The opinions of these counsels regarding the meaning of “truth” are known as “creeds” and “confessions.” These are “truths” (actually, opinions concerning the meaning of any given subject) repackaged for those who have limited understanding, and usually recited and learned through catechisms [4].

Authority Versus Individual Interpretation

Hence, Protestant interpretation is based on authority and not individual interpretation. The structure of this interpretive process is orthodoxy formed through counsels, distributed by creeds/confessions, and practiced through catechisms. In Europe and early Colonial America, it was a matter of civil law, in our day the process is tempered by the freedom to choose your own orthodoxy, but it is still orthodoxy. Once a typical American parishioner chooses who they want to believe, they will follow that leader as an authority. A like tendency caused the Apostle Paul to confront the believers at Corinth (1COR 3:1-9).

Of course, the authoritative method of interpretation is at the root of every cult. Traditionally, when people seek to find God, they begin by finding an authority that they are comfortable with. This is why many people prefer authoritative interpretation in a free society: it allows them to choose their own general truth while leaving the hard task of thinking to others. The Apostle Paul said this would be particularly problematic in the last days (2TIM 4:3-5).

The visible authority structure within the church is known as “church polity” or church government. [5] Again, the whole construct is based on authority. If authority is the interpretive prism, roles in the church are going to be seen as positions of authority rather than gifts. When Christ ministered here on earth, disciples were free to follow Him or not follow Him under their own free volition (JN 6:66-69). Christ made it clear to the disciples that their roles in the kingdom were not that of authority (Matthew 20:20-28).

The word “office” inserted in the English translations when associated with “bishop” or “deacon” were added in to the translations and do not appear in the Greek manuscripts while in other places these roles are spoken of as gifts (EPH 4:11-16). We have been given authority to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom on earth, but that is a vertical authority and not horizontal. Those who protest the gift idea versus the authority idea often cite the following text:

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

The word for “obey” in this verse is πείθω (peithō) which means to persuade by argument. The word “submit” is ὑπείκω (hypeikō) which means “to surrender.”  Here is the best rendering according to a heavy paraphrase:

Be persuaded by your leaders’ arguments from Scripture and don’t be stubborn in regard to the truth for this is no advantage to your own spiritual wellbeing. Besides, they have to give an account for how they led you, and let that account be a joyful recital to the Lord rather than a sorrowful report.

Why is this important? Because every person is personally culpable before God for following the truth, not men. Paul was an apostle, yet the Bereans verified what he taught according to their own understanding of Scripture (Acts 17:11). Paul told the Corinthians that he should only be followed as he followed Christ (1COR 11:1). Every individual will stand before God to give an account of the sum and substance of their own lives, not who they followed among mortals.

The Exegesis and Eisegesis of Hermeneutics

The theological word for the science of biblical interpretation is hermeneutics. The first consideration of hermeneutics must be exegesis and eisegesis. Exegesis draws conclusions from written text depending on the grammatical meaning and arrangement of words. Eisegesis approaches the text with an interpretive prism. One who uses the exegetical approach will even approach the text to learn how the text itself should be interpreted. Eisegesis assumes one must approach the text with a proper presupposition in order to properly understand it.

Therefore, this takes us right back to the basic question of authority versus the freedom of individual interpretation. Eisegesis will approach the text with a prescribed method of interpretation while exegesis will look for the best way to interpret the text from the text itself. The interpretive prism for eisegesis comes from an authority. The common contention from those of the authority camp is that everybody approaches the Bible with presuppositions, and this is unavoidable; so, it is important to use the right interpretive prism. Since we are supposedly incapable of approaching the Bible objectively, we should bow to their authority in regard to the proper interpretive prism.

Historical-Grammatical Versus Historical Redemptive: The Elephant in the Room

Eisegesis and exegesis really boils down to authority versus individualism, and so does the two major methods of interpretation in the church: historical-grammatical method and the historical-redemptive method. This is where we get into discussion about the elephant in the room. These two devices of interpretation yield completely different results. When we sit under any given teacher, he/she will be using one of these hermeneutics. The two different approaches will sound the same because each uses all of the familiar terms, “gospel,” “justification,” etc., but the terms mean different things in each construct. This is the elephant in the sanctuary and the Sunday school room that no one is talking about.

As suggested by the terms themselves, one interprets the Bible grammatically, and the other interprets the Bible through a Redemptive prism. The latter seems perfectly reasonable: “Isn’t the Bible primarily about Redemption?” The former would judge that assertion by a grammatical evaluation of the text. In other words, conclusions are drawn by the arrangement of words, their meaning, and what those words meant to people in that historical context. This is exegesis.

The redemptive method presupposes that the Bible is a gospel narrative about the works and personhood of Christ. It presupposes that this is the dominate theme of the Bible and everything else in the Bible is secondary and points back to Christ. For example, biblical commands aren’t really meant for us to obey, but rather illustrate the works that Christ has accomplished for us and illustrative of what we are unable to do. This bypasses the normal grammatical interpretation of an imperative expectation, and interprets it as a finished work that God in fact does not want us to do. This is assumed because of the redemptive presupposition. As Neo-Calvinist Paul David Tripp has said, biblical commands must be seen in their “gospel context.” [6]

The Gospel Transformation Study Bible and the Redemptive-Historical Gospel

Dr. Kathleen Nielson, in a promotional video for the Gospel Transformation study Bible, stated that the historical-redemptive theme is not imposed on the text, “it’s actually in there!” This, we by no means deny, but are the works of Christ and His personhood something that every verse in the Bible points to? Nielson, like many from the redemptive-historical camp, use the grammatical approach to determine that something is in the text, and then make that an authoritative interpretive prism.

I have talked face to face with pastors who use this hermeneutic. As one stated to me, “You might have to cover multiple chapters in one sermon in order to see the Christocentric theme God is showing you at the time.”  Others are even more direct:

At this time, resist the temptation to utilize subsequent passages to validate the meaning or to move out from the immediate context. Remembering that all exegesis must finally be a Christocentric exegesis.

Look for Christ even if He isn’t there directly. It is better to see Christ in a text even if He isn’t, than to miss Him where He is. [7]

Again, we see that a “Christocentric exegesis,” something that is in the text grammatically, becomes the authoritative eisegesis. And this elephant is a big one, because interpreting the Bible this way is intrinsically tied to the gospel that comes part and parcel with the redemptive method. The historical-redemptive method is a tool for enabling the believer to live by faith alone in their Christian walk. The historical-redemptive method is actually a gospel in and of itself.  To interpret the Bible grammatically is to conclude that God actually wants us to exert our own will in response to commands in the Bible. To proponents of the redemptive-historical method, this is works salvation because Christ is not obeying for us in our Christian life. This is what the Reformation motto, “Christ for us” means. The Neo-Calvinist John Piper has stated it this way, “[Christ] 100% for us.” [8] Piper has also said that “necessary sanctification” comes from faith alone in the Christian life (Ibid).

Therefore, according to proponents of the redemptive model, a historical-grammatical interpretation of Scripture necessarily leads to works salvation and making what we do in the Christian life “the ground of our justification” (Ibid). For all practical purposes, Paul David Tripp has stated such:

….and the Bible does call us to change the way we think about things. But this approach again omits the person and work of Christ as Savior. Instead, it reduces our relationship to Christ to “think his thoughts” and “act the way Jesus would act.” [9]

Here, Tripp concedes that the Bible can be interpreted grammatically, “and the Bible does call us to change the way we think about things.” Grammatically, one assumes the commandments are to us and that we are called to do them. Again, Tripp clearly recognizes this fact. But what does he say the results are?

But this approach again omits the person and work of Christ as Savior.

What happens if we “omit” Christ as “Savior”? Clearly, Tripp is stating that if we interpret the Bible literally and obey it, we are circumventing Christ’s salvific work. Much more than mere semantics are at stake here. The elephant in the room is absolutely huge! This is about the gospel.

The historical-redemptive method of interpretation is all the rage in contemporary Christianity. Projects and programs that promote this method of interpretation and target all age groups abound. Almost all Christian publishers are on board with the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. The latest project that has been unveiled towards this endeavor is Crossway Publishers’ The Gospel Transformation Bible. It will be available 10/19/13.

The subtitle is, “Christ in all of Scripture, Grace for all of Life.” This is typical of those who promote this method of interpretation and its gospel. Christians will assume that the title only pertains to justification by faith alone, but it doesn’t. “Transformation” or change has to do with the Christian life, and in the subtitle, “Grace” replaces “gospel” to veil the real crux of this doctrine. Basically, it teaches that Christians are transformed by continually revisiting the same gospel that saved them. Not only that, we keep ourselves saved by doing such. This is what is behind the Neo-Calvinist mantra, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” John Piper has said that the question is not only how one gets saved, but how one must use the same gospel that saved him/her to keep themselves saved. [10] Piper has also said that we must “see” the same gospel that saved us over and over again as a requirement to enter heaven. [11]

Note: This is what’s so critical about the Reformed historical-redemptive interpretative model according to many Calvinists, it enables us to fulfill what is “required of us” to enter heaven (Ibid). In essence, once saved, how we read our Bible determines whether we keep our salvation or not. So therefore, those who promote The Gospel Transformation Bible actually see it as a resource for maintaining one’s salvation.

The “Gospel-Driven” Life

The question that is invariably raised is, “How do proponents of the historical-redemptive model explain obedience and the Christian life?” Primarily, they say Christians must “experience” obedience, but must not be the ones who perform it in the Christian life. By revisiting the gospel afresh, the works of Christ are “manifested” in our lives. When this happens, the obedience is experienced by a willing, joyful spirit. As we use the historical-redemptive model to see how sinful we are (a deeper realization of our sin, the realization that originally saved us), and thereby gaining a greater appreciation for what Jesus did for us, we experience “vivification.” This is some sort of joyful rebirth. Proponents of this hermeneutic, primarily those of Reformed theology, refer to this as “mortification and vivification.”  A “daily dying and rising,” a “living out of our baptism.” [12] [13]

The Origin of the Historical-Redemptive Hermeneutic

Where did this hermeneutic originate? Even though Martin Luther’s 95 Theses launched the Reformation, the framework of the Reformation’s doctrine and gospel was articulated by Martin Luther six months later. Essentially, Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order in 1518 is the heart and soul of the Reformation. Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion is a greatly expanded treatise of Luther’s framework. However, every fundamental element of Reformation doctrine can be found in Luther’s Disputation, and this by no means excludes the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. [14]

The primary theme of Luther’s Disputation is known as The Theology of the Cross. It was comprised of the glory story and the cross story. Luther believed that salvation must be maintained by an incessant emptying of self. One’s focus must be OUTWARD only. Any semblance of an inward look was the “glory story.” The outward focus on Christ and His works, and nothing about us whatsoever is the “cross story.” A beginning focus on the cross saves us, and a continued focus on the cross story keeps us saved the same way we were originally saved: by faith alone. Sola Fide also pertains to the Christian walk/life. The historical-redemptive model came from Luther’s Theology of the Cross.

Luther believed the outward focus and utter eradication of self leads to a subjective power displayed by the Holy Spirit that we experience. However, we are not to be concerned with it because there is no way for us to distinguish between our own efforts and those of the Spirit. [15] Mortification and vivification can be ascertained in Theses’ 16 and 17 of the Disputation.

Never have Christians been so oblivious to such a critical issue. What we believe about the gospel and how we convey it to the world is at stake. Every Sunday in America, historical-grammatical parents deliver their children to historical-redemptive teachers while clueless in regard to the ramifications. This reality actually creates mixed families and marriages via two different gospels. One spouse buys into sanctification by faith alone while the other one doesn’t. Eventually, you have a mixed marriage.

The issue with these two hermeneutics is not a matter of semantics and preference—these are two different gospels. This issue is the elephant in the sanctuary and the Sunday school room.

ENDNOTES

1. Nabu Public Domain Reprints: The Principles of the Westminster Standards Persecuting; William Marshall, D.D., Coupar – Angus. Edinburgh, William Oliphant & Co. 1873, p. 13.

2. Ibid., pp. 19-22, 28.

3. Bruce Overton: MacMillan’s Modern Dictionary; The Macmillan Co. New York 1943.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid. designated as synonymous with “politic” : the science of government.

6. Paul David Tripp: How People Change; Punch press 2006, p. 26.

7. The Biblical Theological Study Center: A Christo-Presuppositional Approach to the Entire Scriptures; Max Strange. Online source: http://goo.gl/5sGjP).

8. John Piper: Desiring God .org blog: Video, If you had 2 minutes with the Pope, what would you say?

9. Paul David Tripp: How People Change; Punch press 2006, p. 27.

10. John Piper: Desiring God .org blog; How Does The Gospel Save Believers? Part 2. August 23, 1998 Bethlehem Baptist Church.

11. Ibid, Part 3.

12. Michael Horton: The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way; Zondervan 2011, p. 661.

13. Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance.

14. In its fundamental elements. It was not referred to as the historical-redemptive hermeneutic for many years afterward.

15. Heidelberg Disputation: Theses 24.

How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 3, Doing the Christian Walk

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 14, 2015

Blog Radio LogoGood evening, everyone. Welcome to Blog Talk Radio False Reformation. This is your host, Paul Dohse. If you would like to call in and add to the lesson tonight, the number is 347-855-8317. You will hear me say, “You are on the air. This is your host, Paul. What is your question or comment?” and just start talking. Identifying yourself is optional.

Per the usual, we’ll be checking in towards the end of the conclusion of our presentation and try to get a conversation going with Susan about the topic at hand to kind of round everything out.

This is our third part in the series, “How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification.” In the first part we defined the enemy; in the second part we defined the Christian, and now we are getting into the actual nuts and bolts of Christian living. How, yes, how do we walk in the Spirit or according to the will and desires of the Spirit? These are also our desires because we are born of God.

Again, this series is designed to address the core basics of sanctification and we trust that folks will add to their understanding through independent Bible study. We must remember, for more than 500 years, Protestantism has focused on justification while making sanctification a subjective outflow of salvation. Christian living is therefore a vast untapped knowledge.

Taking the first two parts together, we understand that the Christian is not only declared righteous by God, we are in fact new creatures who are holy. Perfect sinlessness is not the issue, change of direction is the issue. We have examined why sin in the Christian life does not exempt the Christian from being truly righteous and why that is not “legal fiction.”

This is important: the only soteriological imputation spoken of in the Bible is our sins to Jesus. Righteousness is not imputed to the Christian nor does the Bible state that anywhere. Christians are MADE righteous by the new birth. There is no so-called “double imputation.”

Romans 6:4 – We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

The righteousness of God is not merely imputed to us, the new birth has made us the righteousness of God because we are His literal offspring. This is important to know if we are to live a sanctified life as kingdom citizens.

In order to adequately tap into the vast riches of sanctification via the Scriptures, it is essential that justification and sanctification not be confused. Regardless of what English translations seem to say, “gift” and “reward” cannot be confused. Salvation is a gift, sanctification, or the Christian walk involves rewards. Anything spoken of in the Bible as a reward CANNOT refer to salvation.

This part is going to be a summary on some of the methods of change for Chrsitians. Let’s start with the basic ones and move on from there. First of all, we are disciples, or learners. Gaining wisdom in sanctification is critical.

It is also critical that Scripture is your authority. Therefore, for all practical purposes, that means independent study and not a total dependence on teachers who are a help, NOT an authority. The only authority is Scripture (Acts 17:11).

Also, the method of interpretation should be grammatical historical as illustrated by the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus prescribed a learning and applying in order to have a life built upon on a rock. The audience was the uneducated peasantry of that day. The Bible is to be interpreted according to its plain sense of the words and how they are arranged in sentences. Historical context and rules of grammar should be observed as well.

Never forget this: all rules for interpreting the Bible are found within the Bible itself. Also, always remember to interpret a passage in context of justification or sanctification.

Do you know who you are as a Christian other than a holy one? You are a disciple, or learner. One of your primary objectives is to continually gain wisdom for Christian living. That’s sanctification.

1Thessalonians 4:1 – Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

In the first two studies, we looked at how sin uses desire to make its appeal. Sin’s goal is to sell you on obeying its desires. Unbelievers, as we just read, are marked by obeying their desires.

Romans 6:12 – Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

As born again believers, we are going to have desires like those of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 Again, our members, or mortality is not inherently evil. When Paul wrote “the desires of the flesh” that refers to when the flesh is being used in service to sinful desires. We have firmly established that our members can also be used for holy purposes. We also looked at the fact that our bodies are the Holy of Holies where the Holy Spirit resides. When we were “under law” we were enslaved to sinful desires and free to do good, but as ones “under grace” we are enslaved to righteousness and unfortunately free to sin.

It’s a reversal of overall direction predicated mostly by a love for God’s truth versus indifference to God’s law. That’s the glaring difference between a lost person and a saved person; though the unregenerate might be moral and practically wise in many areas of life, there will be a marked indifference to God’s opinion about things. People under grace love the truth:

2Thessolonians 2:9 – The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Wisdom teaches that Christians must discern between the desires of the Spirit and the desires of sin. I assume sinful desires will usually have pleasure as their goal, while godly desires will often look beyond pleasure to some higher goal. This can get pretty complex and would be a vast field of study in and of itself. Greed, taking shortcuts in dealing with life, and many other considerations would come into play.

At any rate, we learn of an extremely important principle in Romans 6. We become slaves to whatever desires we obey.

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When someone comes to you with an addiction, they have become addicted because they have become enslaved to that desire by obeying it over and over again. Whether believer or unbeliever, we become enslaved to what we obey. When we don’t feel like doing something that perhaps is an obligation like going to work, and we obey that feeling, the feeling becomes stronger and stronger to the point where it dominates us.

People who are lazy are enslaved to a certain feeling. And feelings talk, right? In this case, the feeling is saying, “I don’t want to go to work.” A lazy person must stop obeying that feeling.

Then you have stuff like pornography. People can be what we call “attractive.” So, whether men or women, we want to avoid soft porn. If you begin by obeying a desire to view soft porn, it’s just going to escalate from there. This is why I stay away from the magazine racks at grocery stores. It’s saying no to soft porn. If you say no to soft porn and set boundaries, it will always be easy to say no—the desire is weak. Saying yes makes you a slave to whatever you need to be saying no to.

And porn is dangerous because it can intermingle with the reality of an innocent recognition that there is attractiveness among people. Some people are easy on the eyes, other people not so much. This is reality. But wisdom comes into play here as well. There is an inner beauty and outer beauty which is a subject worthy of a whole book in and of itself.

Another thing we learn from Scripture is the principle of life and death. This is an active principle in both the believer and unbeliever. People either choose life or death. What we obey in life either brings about death or life. When we obey a sinful desire, it brings about some sort of death which in many cases is an extremely subtle form of death. In the life of an unbeliever, the overall direction in various degrees is death leading to ultimate death. That’s why there are degrees of eternal punishment. The end of a believer’s life is going to be eternal life, but that can look pretty sad in many cases.

More on this later, but it is clear in Scripture that a believer wallowing in anemic sanctification can sin unto death. I don’t think Ananias and Sapphire were struck dead because of their onetime act of hypocrisy, I think it was the final straw in a long succession of choices leading to death.

This is where we might plug in another sanctification dynamic. In regard to justification, we should have no fear. There is no condemnation for those who believe in Christ. But, we are commanded to have fear in sanctification throughout the New Testament. Why? This life and death dynamic in regard to what we obey. This is heavily emphasized throughout the New Testament.

1Peter 4:17 – For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Before we build on this life and death construct, let’s look more at desires. It is important for Christians to know that they can put sinful desires to death in their lives. And sinful desires can take on all sorts of forms. Among unbelievers who are under law, you name it: a desire to murder. What happens when someone obeys that desire? They become a what? Right, serial killer. What about a desire to have sex with animals? What about thrill-seeking which can take on all kinds of manifestations? See, believers don’t understand these dynamics. Sin manifests itself differently in different people through different desires. Unbelievers can only be freed from these desires by dying:

Romans 6:6 – We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Oh my, what a wonderful evangelism tool! Offering the good news to people that they can die with Christ and be resurrected with Him in Spirit baptism which will free them from sinful desires. Homosexuals do not have to be hounded by that desire the rest of their lives. They may also learn they are called to singleness. Because of lack of wisdom, I think some unbelievers reason that if they don’t desire the opposite sex, they must be homosexual. Also, be sure of this: not saying no to sexual desire might lead anywhere. Most homosexuality begins with unfettered sexual desires with the same sex as well as sexual fantasies of all sorts. In a passage we read, it speaks of drunken orgies that would have involved group sex fueled by alcohol, and undoubtedly, anything goes in those settings. Point being: obeying sexual desires of all sorts can lead to anything and the slavery thereof.

Those desires can be put to death.

Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Sinful desires can be put to death. How? By disobeying the desire, and robbing the desire of provisions:

Romans 13:14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The word for “provision” is pronoia; it means to give forethought in caring for something. We are to cut off anything that gives a thought to the desire. No, if you are a former homosexual, you don’t associate with homosexuals. No, if you are a former alcoholic, you don’t associate with people who drink. And no, you don’t keep alcohol in the house for any reason.

If you have repented of gluttony, you don’t keep excess amounts of food in the house, and if you are on a diet, you keep certain foods out of the house. Many more examples could be used—you get the picture. You don’t feed the desire because desire is what sin uses to make its appeal, and strong appeals make it harder to say no.

As we look at this further, INCENTIVE is so huge in all of this. Note 2Timothy 2:15.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Note the use of the word “worker.” The same Greek word is mostly translated “laborer” elsewhere. This couldn’t be talking about salvation. Paul isn’t telling Timothy to earn his salvation. This not only means that a Christian can be ashamed, but that their entry into heaven can be a foggy and fearful affair:

2Peter 1:5 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If adding these things listed to our lives can result in a rich entry into heaven, I have to believe that a not-so-rich entry is also possible. Every indication here is that one can go to heaven shrouded in doubt. Peter could not be telling Christians to make every effort to finish their salvation—that’s not what is in view here. Paul described his own rich entry:

2Timothy 4:5 – As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist,. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Key to the rich entry is “fulfill your ministry.” As we read in one of the many passages cited here tonight, EVERY Christian has been granted gifts for the purpose of the ministry they are called to. Fulfill that ministry. At least for Paul, the ability to stare death in the face without even flinching is tied to the fact that he fulfilled his ministry, and I strongly suspect it is no different for us. And let’s face it, we know how much emphasis there is on individual gifts in the institutional church.

Not only that, the only ministry that is taken seriously is performed by those who purchased a degree from a seminary. In a home fellowship, the gifts of the individuals in that small group are right in front of you every week. Individual service is the focus—not all of the distractions of an institution bewitched by authority. Leaders of a home fellowship are focused on individual gifts—not all of the drama that goes along with an institution.

Wise sanctification is rewarded richly in this life and the life to come. You can have eternal life, and be miserable in this life. Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Hey, you’re here, while you are it you might as well love life.

1Peter 3:10 – For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (Psalms 34:12).

Is it fair to say that depressed people don’t love life? Is it fair to say that depression is a form of death? Remember when I told you that choosing death or making death choices can be very subtle? Well, many times a series of subtle death choices can culminate into depression and often people will have no idea where the depression came from. This is where we get into people thinking depression is a chemical imbalance etc. Now look, depression can be medical, so definitely go to the doctor, but also be sure to take a hard look at your life—do both.

Susan and I are involved with a young person right now that can’t tell the truth about anything. I don’t know a whole lot, but I know this: if that person doesn’t repent they aren’t going to love life and see good days. If for no other reason, please start a home fellowship for the sake of our young people. Why? Because the institutional church is not going to teach this stuff to our children. No, no, that would be making them Pharisees. So, what do we see coming out of the institutional church in regard to our youth? Death, and death more abundantly unto death. Weak sanctification delegates God’s people to death, period.

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Mark 10: 28 – Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Luke 14:12 – He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

What is missing in Christianity is a whole new way of life defined in kingdom living. We are merely ambassadors here, and are to live as sojourners and aliens (1Peter 2:11). Neglected is a body of knowledge that encompasses kingdom living from how we think to citizenship.

Missing is this whole concept of incentive for kingdom living. Obviously, when salvation is emphasized, and sanctification is looked at as an endeavor to keep our salvation, life more abundant in the here and now is not going to be emphasized. Our individual calling is not emphasized, keeping our salvation is emphasized.

This is the great calling of the home fellowship movement: an emphasis on sanctification and kingdom living. I was going to have several other parts to this series until I started researching; then I realized that I would be doing nothing but this till the second coming and none of our other projects would ever get done. So this is it. Next week we move on to something else. But I do believe that the Scriptures hold the answers for life’s most difficult problems, and it is up to us to find those answers in the Scriptures.

However, I am doing another series that is a critical supplement to this study; the whole issue of the “race of faith.” Part one, What is the Race of Faith? Justification or Sanctification? Or Both? A Biblical Evaluation, Part 1: First Letter of John 1:7-10 is complete and posted on PPT. Yes, this whole idea of perseverance that fuses justification and sanctification together. Is salvation in part a reward? Is salvation the reward for persevering, or is salvation strictly a gift?

Protestantism clearly states that salvation is a gift, but also a reward for persevering. This fits perfectly with their progressive justification construct. We contend that even though the English translations seem to indicate salvation as reward, that in the overall consensus of Scripture, mixing gift and reward is absolutely impossible—the two MUST be kept separate. I believe that a Christian can throw in the towel, but that doesn’t mean he loses his salvation—it means he loses reward in this life and the life to come. The idea of losing eternal reward is difficult for me to grasp, but losing rewards presently—not so much. It’s hard to love life when you have no hope. An example of eternal reward follows:

Daniel 12:3 – And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

That sounds pretty cool, but then there is this:

1 Corinthians 3:10 – According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This is pretty clear, no? Saved people will suffer loss of reward. The “through fire” part is a little unsettling, and it should be, but nevertheless, gift and reward cannot be confused. ANY passage that speaks of gift apart from spiritual gifts for service MUST refer to justification/salvation. ANY passage that speaks of reward MUST be speaking to Christian living. And when you start reading your Bible that way, it makes sense. For instance, James 1:12.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

So, if life is about Life and death choices, wouldn’t it make sense that one of the eternal rewards is for someone who persevered well in the Christian life? Specifically, a crown of life? Note what else James writes in the very next verse and following:

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Look, we all make choices in life that brings forth some sort of death, but that doesn’t mean we lose our salvation. Yes, yes, I know how the Reformed get around the accusation of Christ plus perseverance; already not yet which means that perseverance is merely a manifestation of who God has already elected. Well lovely—that just overfloweth with hope.

So, your assurance is only as good as your response to the next trial. And by the way, I heard John MacArthur Jr. say that. In fact, it was said to me by a Reformed counselor during a hard time that I was going through; I had to persevere through the trial in order to show myself approved.

Ok, so that’s it, part three of our series and next week we move on to something else.

Addendum: (more…)

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